In a contest over 90 years ago, judges fell in love with a simple charcoal sketch of a happy baby. But for decades, the name of that baby has been a mystery.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Decades after her portrait became one of the most recognizable brand symbols in the world, Ann Turner Cook, the original Gerber baby, died at the age of 95.
Although her resemblance as a child was known to millions of people, the people in her life remember her as a mother, teacher, and novelist.
“Many years before she became an extraordinary mother, teacher and writer, her smile and expressive curiosity captured hearts everywhere and will continue to live on as a symbol for all babies,” Gerber wrote on Instagram on Friday. “We extend our deepest condolences to Ann’s family and all those who had the pleasure of meeting her.”
Cook’s resemblance became Gerber’s symbol after a 1928 contest. According to the brand’s website, artist Dorothy Hope Smith presented a simple charcoal sketch of her neighbor, noting that she would finish the sketch if she won.
“His drawing competed with elaborate oil paintings, but the judges fell in love with the baby face Smith drew, and when they chose him as the winner, they insisted that the simple illustration remains a sketch,” the website says.
The illustration has appeared on all of Gerber’s packaging and advertisements since 1931, but the identity of the cherub baby has been unknown for more than 40 years. The assumptions about the baby’s identity were very diverse: was she a movie star like Elizabeth Taylor? A more unexpected public figure, like former U.S. Senator Bob Dole?
According to Gerber, Cook’s identity was revealed in 1978. She became a retired English teacher in Tampa and a mystery novelist. His family confirmed to the New York Times that he died on Friday in St. Petersburg, Florida.
According to The New York Times, Cook kept her identity as Gerber Baby a secret for so long because she was worried about ridicule. She earned only $ 5,000 for using her image in the early 1950s, a sum that allowed her to pay for a house.
Cook knew it was baby Gerber long before the world found out. She said her mother told her when she was little.
“If you’re going to be a symbol of something, what could be nicer than a symbol of baby food?” He told the Associated Press in 1998.
Gerber’s original baby, Ann Turner Cook, dies
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